The Frustration of The First Day Back

In Mental Toughness
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I’ve been busy.

Making stuff. Changing stuff. Tearing things down and rebuilding them from scratch. And I haven’t been writing posts for the last two weeks. I’ve been writing plenty — mostly copy for some things that you’ll see soon — but the blog has been lonely.

I knew this, and told myself two days ago that I should write something that day. That didn’t happen.

The thought occurred to me again yesterday around 3 in the afternoon when I was doing other things. I never got around to writing, again.

Today though, as I was coming in from my morning walk, I decided that writing you would be the first thing I did. No way it could get buried under other priorities that way. So here we are.

Then… I couldn’t decide on a topic.

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Not that I don’t have lots to choose from. I keep a folder of unwritten posts in Docs, the same way I keep Evernote notes of unrecorded podcast episodes and videos. It’s just that I wasn’t particularly excited about writing any of what I had in waiting.

For me, the best time to write any post is usually right at the moment the idea hits me. I’m thinking about the topic because something happened that sparked the idea. My mind is most ripe to write it right then. But I have other stuff going on; on-the-spot post writing rarely happens. I’ll jot the topic, along with a note or two reminding me of what led to the topic, and come back to it.

And I can pick up any topic, get to it, and produce something good pretty consistently… when I’m being consistent with writing. Two weeks off has put my writing brain to sleep.

If you go to the gym, imagine two weeks away from lifting, or two weeks without yoga or two weeks with no cardio. While The Third Day is when you’re used to the work but you’re not so energized for it, this is The First Day: you built the habit, then stopped for a brief period, and now you want to pick back up where you left off… but you’re rusty.

The frustrating part is that you were really sharp at it just two weeks ago. Two weeks is a short enough period of time that you remember how it felt to be sharp — and long enough that you’re not quite so sharp anymore.

On both The Third Day and The First Day, you know you can do the thing. The Third Day is about bringing the energy. The First Day is about relocating the skill.

[400 words into this post, and my writing ability is coming back to me!]

I had taken an Assistant-manager-in-training job at Foot Locker as my first gig after college. It was September, and the weather was just beginning to turn cooler; no more outdoor basketball. I was broke, without a car, and still living in my parents’ home.

If you’ve ever started a job, you know that, because of how pay periods are set up (or at least how they used to be back then), your first paycheck doesn’t come until you’ve been working for damn near a month. So, being broke as I was, and with the weather turning cold, I hadn’t touched a basketball for a month when I joined LA Fitness with my first Foot Locker paycheck.

I came to the gym that day not even expecting to fully join; I had a 2-weeks-free pass and was only going to use the cardio and weight rooms on my first day, getting my body back in gear. But the manager there made me a good offer to join as a full member with no up-front initiation fee (money that I didn’t have anyway), and I gladly accepted.

30 minutes later, I was playing full court 5-on-5 basketball with some Regular Joes — the kind of guys I had averaged 40 points per game against in intramural basketball my senior year of college, when I was playing ball every day.

But I couldn’t dominate these guys in LA Fitness.

Not because they were any good, but because I wasn’t as good at that moment as I knew I was in my mind.

I couldn’t explode past anyone to get to the rim. I could barely dunk. My dribbling was shaky.

What compounded these issues was the fact that I was hogging the ball, trying to do all the stuff that I couldn’t do. My mind hadn’t gotten the memo that my body wasn’t yet up to the task.

I still left the gym victorious that day, having gutted out a “win” in a matchup with some cocky chump white boy who wouldn’t have even made the basketball team at my college. It was not a win worth celebrating. My game had fallen off a cliff.

LA Fitness became my home-away-from-home after that day, and I was rusty only two other times since that day.

I’ll tell you about those later.

#WorkOnYourGame

PS- I’ve paid for copies of two of my books — The Mirror Of Motivation and The Overseas Basketball Blueprint — to ship you for free. All you need to do is pay for the shipping and tell us where to mail them.

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